I've come across a number of ordinary CDs recently that have boasted "remastered in 24/96" ... but, if the CD is encoded in standard Red Book format, what benefit could possibly result from this?
Mastering tools and techniques for CD have improved over the last number of years. Even when a high rez signal is folded down to 16 bit format for CD, better instrumental detail and ambience can be preserved via dither and alogrithms that shift noise out of the audible spectrum. Older D to A conversion could result in truncated bits, hardening the music.
The ironic thing in all of this is that music is often more compressed now and the full dynamic range that CD is capable of is not being taken advantage of--the result is fatiguing CDs. There are a lot of music lovers that seek out older masterings of CDs because they were made with less compression of the signal.
I've heard new masterings of CDs that better capture the delicacy and tone of certain instruments, but, are more compressed than the older version of the album.
Sometimes you can't win.
Thanks Jeff, grateful for that.
Interesting what you say about increased compression on newer masterings; is there a technical reason for that, or is it more a recording industry fad? Can't say it's an effect I've noticed, though I always associate the term "compression" with the heavy-handed, supposedly 'radio-friendly' process that sucked the life out of most recorded '80s rock music - and I'm sure it's nothing that dramatic that you're referring to here.